As snack and bakery categories shift and draw inspiration from one another, producers are finding opportunities to adjust the ingredient makeup in traditional products to create new snacking opportunities. Truly better-for-you cookies is one such segment that has surfaced with much potential for adding incremental category sales.

In order to learn more about this emerging trend, we reached out to Janet Carver, senior manager, Culinology group and food pilot plant, Ingredion Incorporated, Bridgewater, NJ.

Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: What are the most-interesting trends in cookies today?

Janet Carver: Health and nutritional enhancements, such as reducing and/ or replacing sugars with other sources such as fruit and vegetable concentrates or tapioca sugars. Interesting textures are becoming more popular, as well, beyond “soft-baked style.” We have experimented quite a bit with a crispy, soft, chewy texture that is very unique and has been positively reviewed when shown to our customers. Combinations of textures and flavors from other countries also finding a following in the search for new flavors and food experiences.

DJP: How do you see a trend like “better for you” impacting the cookie market?

JC: The market has been hit hard by the granola, nut and seed bar segment. More people are turning to this “healthy” alternative to satisfy sweet cravings between meals because of the perception of it being healthier. There is also the trend in the market of “small indulgences” that will positively impact the cookie market. Adding naturally derived nutritional enhancements could also be a way forward: added calcium, resistant starch fiber enhancement, shortchain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS) addition, etc.

DJP: Where do you find your greatest culinary inspiration?

JC: Travel, eating out, trying new techniques and recipes. Reading—constantly sifting through blogs, Instagram, following chefs and colleagues, magazines, etc. One of my biggest inspirations is my team and what they see, hear and eat

DJP: How does the discipline of Culinology factor into your day-today work?

JC: As the manager of Ingredion’s Culinology Team, and being both a food technologist and a chef, the discipline of Culinology is what I use every day. It is a major contribution to my thought process and how we bring unique food concepts and solutions highlighting our portfolio to our customers.